Need a Czech mate
October 30, 2008 7:12 AM   Subscribe

I don't know any Czech speakers but I'm pretty sure I'm making a hash of saying this guy's surname out loud.

I'm reading about the Bohemia-born anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka (1869-1943).
Can anyone kindly supply the phonetic pronunciation of his last name?
posted by Jody Tresidder to Writing & Language (10 answers total)
posted by divka at 7:17 AM on October 30, 2008

Yeah, with the stress on the first syllable.
posted by languagehat at 8:36 AM on October 30, 2008

After about a dozen tries, I sound almost plausible...
Thank you both for the perfect pair of answers.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:22 AM on October 30, 2008

The actual spelling is Aleš Hrdlička - the little 'v' over the c means that it's pronounced as a hard 'ch'.

The same mark over the s in Ales means that it's pronounced like 'sh'.

Does anyone know what syllables should be stressed? A Wikipedia section on stressing in Czech indicates usually the first syllable of a word is stressed, but this is a name after all.
posted by amtho at 9:27 AM on October 30, 2008

Thanks, languagehat - I really should refresh before I reply. Would the first syllable in Aleš be stressed also?
posted by amtho at 9:28 AM on October 30, 2008

Yep, first syllable (AH-lesh).
posted by piratebowling at 10:11 AM on October 30, 2008

The same mark over the s in Ales means that it's pronounced like 'sh'.

I hadn't even thought about that!
Thank you.

(I need to mention him (out loud) tomorrow night because I'm meeting some people who are very well informed about an area of science that Hrdlička strayed into - I've got a feeling I should stick to just his surname. I'm likely to become unglued if I try to run "Hurd (stressed) -leech-ka" straight after "A-lesh"!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:16 AM on October 30, 2008

Double check my pronunciation of his first name, too. I'm pretty sure I'm right, but peoples' names can be weird.

As a side note, 'r' with the little 'v' over it is pronounced rzh - hence the pronunciation of composer Dvořák's last name.
posted by amtho at 11:25 AM on October 30, 2008

I work in Anthropology, and work with Physical Anthropologists. Hrdlicka worked in the U.S. in Physical Anthropology (he basically founded that sub field), and traditionally, in the U.S., his name is pronounced a bit differently than it would be if you were in the homeland. It is more like AL-lesh HERD-litch-ka.

Ales in the U.S. is pronounced somewhat similarly to the name Alice, in terms of emphasis on syllables. In terms of last name, Herd to rhyme with word, litch to rhyme with switch. Note that you almost give the same emphasis to the first two syllables of his last name and then tack on the ka.

If you are talking about him in the U.S., with those who are familiar with his field, then pronounce it that way. Don't stress too much about it though, because even within Anthropology, it is common for people to be unsure about how to pronounce his name.
posted by gudrun at 12:32 AM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

What a gorgeous point. Thank you.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 7:22 AM on October 31, 2008

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